Monday, August 15, 2011

Interesting Facts about Rio de Janeiro

  • At a certain time of day (around 11am I think) you can see a shadow of an Ibis on the side of Pão de Acucar. Of course many people have a lot of mysterious beliefs about what it means. Personally, I think the rocks make a crazy ass shadow. Some would call me a nonbeliever and I would call some crazy...
  • The Portuguese named Rio de Janeiro because when they saw guanabara bay they thought it was the end of a river. And we wonder why the Brazilians tease them so. Anyway, they discovered a river in January and kaboom, Rio de Janeiro was born.
  • While named by the Portuguese, Rio de Janeiro was already being called Oriental France by the French. Are you seeing a pattern of unique names? Me neither. 
  • In 1807, Portugal was invaded by France. At the urging of Britain, the whole Portuguese royal family fled to Brazil, accompanied by an escort of British ships. John VI's court in exile was established in Rio de Janeiro. (wikipedia). I bet he looked over at his wife and whispered "Second honeymoon!"
  • The impressive Theatro Municipal, built in 1905 and located at the heart of Centro, was directly modeled after the Paris Opera House in an attempt to replicate the sophistication of the French capital. (
  • The Pedra da Gavea apparently looks like a face to Cariocas (I don't see it) and there have been many explanations given over the years. Scientists say that there is no basis behind the suggestions.  They claim extreme yet natural erosion of the rock, although some will insist that there is an inscription in the rock that corresponds to a ruler of Phoenicia named Badzir. Things that make you go hmmmmm, right?
  • On a lighter note, Cariocas enjoy putting little shoes on their dogs. No, it's not a form of evil domination. The reasoning I have been given is that those horrible booties keep the dog from dragging outside dirt into the apartment. Now that's some smart walking. 
  • Copacabana is one of the most densely populated places on the planet, with some 25,000 people per square km. The majority of these inhabitants are squeezed into the myriad high rise apartments that dominate the neighborhood. (
So what did I miss? Did I get anything wrong? Shall we compile a list of cool and crazy facts about Rio!


  1. Well, John VI could have said that, but I doubt that his wife agreed. His wife, Dona Carlota Joaquina, despised the country and everything about it.
    That should make for another interesting fact: she hated the country so much that when the court was departing to Portugal, she took off her shoes and shook them because she didn't want to take ''not even a single grain of sand from Brazil with her''. Those were her exact words, by the way.

  2. Awesome fact! I was going to say something about how they say John VI was weak because his wife dominated him. My impression of her is that it would take a demigod not to be dominated!

  3. Rio de Janeiro was the only European capital of americas [capital of Portugal and Brazil during the Portuguese royal family stay in Brazil]. And Brazil is the only country in the Americas who had monarchy [O Canada does not count, because the British monarchy in Canada is not exactly national] = P

  4. Dear Rachel,

    I think you meant 25,000 per square kilometer, right? :)


    I actually read in the history books and saw on a movie that she actually threw her "platform" shoes over the Ocean at the harbor to avoid bringing any grain of Brazilian dirt back with her. I also read that she had a horrible mustache, and was ugly as hell, besides the fact that she was a mean witch! :)


  5. Thanks Ray, my brain didn't even notice that one! Although I will say that it sometimes feels like 25000 per meter ;)

  6. I have never seen a face in Pedra da Gávea either, it always looks to me like a big toad!

  7. Carioca is said to mean white man's house in Tupi, the language from where the term originates.

    The Portuguese, after dominating the French and taking hold of what is now Rio de Janeiro, had a peculiar way of dealing with Frenchmen that did not fall in battle: they would dig a ditch in the sand and bury them from the neck down and then proceed to throw coconuts and other objects in an attempt to hit their heads. If that did not finish them off then high tide would later on.
    Where many bums brown today was once a bummer for Pierre.

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